TENS of thousands of people took to the streets across France to support plans to allow gay marriage mariage pour tous - with an estimated 60,000 in Place de la Bastille in Paris.
Screen and stage stars, parents with buggies and politicians from across party divides joined in a march from the Bastille to the Opéra.
They were making a point after unexpectedly large and vocal opposition to the government’s proposals to allow same-sex marriages and adoptions – and the equally unexpected homophobic tone of many of the remarks.
Brandishing placards saying “Hate is not a family virtue”, “The right for all to choose” they chanted “Oui, oui, oui” and waved rainbow flags as a mark of the gay rights movement.
Marches were also held in Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Toulouse.
In Paris, Green Euro-MP Noël Mamère urged the Socialist Party to have a steady hand in “moving towards a more just society” while UMP Hauts-de-Seine councillor Danielle Duchaussois – who called herself “heterosexual and Catholic” – deplored that her party was so “frosty while society changes”.
The Bastille march was supported by Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë, Housing Minister Cécile Duflot, former Sarkozy health minister Roselyne Bachelot.
Last month a march of around 100,000 in Paris denounced the plans for gay marriage, with some leading churchmen saying that it could lead to polygamy and incest.
New polls show around 60% of French people back the gay marriage plan, with under half supporting their right to adopt. However, proposals to allow gays to have access to fertility treatments have been opposed, even within the Parti Socialiste.